Me — Saving a Hummingbird

I like to tell people that I’m not a nice person. I don’t believe in altruism at all, in fact. Altruism would imply that somebody would perform an action that provides no benefit at all to the self, but this simply does not happen, because even at the inconvenience of the supposed “selfless” person, the act of helping raises one’s own self-esteem.

The funny thing is, I think being nice is just a convenient way of being selfish. Often, when I do a nice thing for somebody it’s not because I actually care, but because I will internally be able to tell myself that I’m a good person. I often look at situations and think “How can I get the most out of it?” and this often takes the form of seeming selfless. By doing the right thing for it’s own sake, not for fame or monetary gain or anything else, I allow myself to think I’m amazing.

So it was that my friend and I found a hummingbird sitting on my driveway, wings splayed out and breathing heavily. Now, I should tell you that this was on a very hot day. Nearing or above 110°F, because who doesn’t love Southern California, am I right? So with the hummingbird sitting in the shade, my first instinct was that she was just trying to cool off. So I pulled out a cold water bottle, filled the cap, and laid it in front of her so she could drink. When she didn’t even look at it, something seemed off.

I told my mom and she said it’s strange that she would be sitting on the ground for shade instead of a tree, which made me think that something was wrong. We went back outside and I noticed that her eye was messed up, and her feathers were ruffled on her head. In fact, I couldn’t even see a right eye, but it might have just been the feathers getting in the way. Either way, this was definitely the cause.

I’m not sure I’ve ever touched a wild creature before. At least not something I would consider an “animal” rather than a bug. I was tentative this time, because she was very small and her wings were extended. I was afraid she’s fly away if I was too careful, and afraid I’d hurt her if I wasn’t. She did try to fly away, and she seemed to be able to fly just fine, but she didn’t fly far. Maybe her eye really was gone and she couldn’t see very well. So with more courage, I picked her up and put her on our front porch where she’d be safer from local cats (which might have been the culprit to begin with).

My mom got a good look at her and told us we should take her to the vet. I was a little discouraged by this. My friend and I were planning on binging Avatar: The Last Airbender, and neither of us had eaten in a long time. Plus, my car currently has no AC, so getting in the car and driving, regardless of distance, would be pretty miserable.

We drove to the only vet in town I was familiar with (the place we took my cat nearly two years ago) and told them what happened, and they explained that they aren’t certified to treat wildlife. The only place nearby that is is about half an hour away. More driving. Ugh.

On the way there, I shifted the subject away from the hummingbird and the blistering heat to talk about a story I’ve been working on. Both of us needed the distraction, and I think it worked moderately well. I even think I figured out the bump that’s been discouraging me from writing (that particular story, at least, my ‘spark’ is still missing).

When we finally got there, we got out of the car just as an older couple was walking out and getting into their car. They see a young couple with what is pretty much a shoe box, and the lady says “Oh, what’s that?” We tell her it’s a hummingbird, and her eyes light up. She explains her friend owns a hummingbird rescue, and asks us to hang around while she calls her friend to explain the situation.

The coincidence here is astounding, so we wait while she talks to her friend on the phone, and then when the conversation is over she offers to take the bird off our hands. She even shows us her business card to prove that she’s legit. She probably mistook us for a couple that cared deeply about animals and the environment and whatnot, and don’t get me wrong, we do, but one dead bird is not going to change anything. I honestly didn’t care if the bird made it, I just wanted to put her in hands more capable than mine, and this was a serendipitous moment.

So, we ended up getting home and actually settling down nearly two hours later than we intended to start watching, but a story came of it, and I did the only logical thing. I couldn’t have just left the bird there knowing I could help, and the last thing I would have wanted was to try to forget I saw her and then see a dead bird in the driveway the next morning.

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